Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Share Icon Project - One Icon For All Sharing

There was once a time when blogs were called weblogs, diaries and online journals. They were the coolest thing happening on the web at that time. Then came Syndication feeds, which allowed the webloggers to share their content in new different ways. Then there came a variety of feeds, like RSS, RSS 2.0, Atom and so on. So the webloggers who were then already jumped onto Blogger and Wordpress blogging platforms started serving all flavors of these feeds. To display a link to these feeds they needed icon so everyone started using different icons for different feeds.

Atom Icon
XML Icon
RSS Icon

Some used XML icon, others used RSS icon, and some used the orange icon that we see everywhere today. Until one day it was decided by web giants that we should make this icon a standard And so came the RSS icon.

These days there is a variety of websites every offering buttons that you can add on your blogs or websites and allow your site's visitors to share your content with their social networks, bookmarks and email contacts. Some websites offer fancy buttons that expand over to accommodate the dozens of social sites. Each of these websites used their own style, design, logos and icons for sharing and it became confusing to figure out how to share quickly without leaving a webpage.

There was a definite need to have something that tells the visitors that if you click on this button or take your mouse over it you will be then showed a list of sharing options that you can choose from. The purpose was to avoid confusion and make it easier for web surfers to share the information.

ShareIcon  Project, offered the solution to the problem. Alex King creator of the Share This sharing service shared the ShareThis icon with the web community to freely use as the standard sharing icon.
The icon of Share this is shown below:

However, there is another project called Open Share Icons a project run by ShareaHolic. They also suggest that there should be a common icon for sharing and they offer their own icon for this purpose. However they oppose the idea of using the ShareThis icon for the purpose. Since ShareThis icon has copyright restrictions, they suggest that a more openly licensed icon should be used for the purpose.

OpenShareIcons recognizes Alex King's efforts but they present their case in these words:
The design of the Open Share Icon is inspired by Alex King's original Share Icon - . The original Share Icon, designed with community input, driven and popularized by Alex King was later sold to ShareThis/Nextumi, Inc.
Since being acquired, that icon has been subject to take down notices by ShareThis/Nextumi, Inc, and its original intended usage restricted in practice. We, as a community, felt these actions by ShareThis/Nextumi, Inc did not reflect the original spirit with which the original share icon was created, and hence felt the need for a new, truly open, free and more flexible community-driven alternative.
I personally go for openness when it comes to technology and ShareThis icon is definitely not open. So I personally recommend using the Open Share Icons.

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